Designed by Arn Jacobsen, Jean Nouvel, Zaha Hadid… these iconic hotels invite us to immerse ourselves for a night in the world of a grand master of architecture. Tour of the best architects’ creations.
The hotel industry, whether it be the luxury or neighbourhood version, is undergoing a transition. New concepts marking a strong identity are getting ahead of run-of-the-mill establishments. After the boutique hotels of the 1980s and 1990s, old buildings are being transformed into designer hotels. What do interior architects do? Invent concepts that mix narrative, design and staging to provide guests with an original experience. But interior architects’ creations are getting more and more sophisticated. Here are some highly subjective examples.
The Arne Jacobsen Radisson Blu Royal Hotel in Copenhagen
Neighbouring Tivoli (Copenhagen’s famous amusement park), this iconic hotel is designed by one of the greatest Danish designers and architects of the 20th century: Arne Jacobsen, involved in this modernist building down to the last detail. To build these 22 floors, Jacobsen used the concept of the curtain wall façade (glass-encased reinforced concrete structure) for the first time in Scandinavia. Some of the furniture items, like the famous Egg and Swan armchairs, specially designed for the premises, are now classics. Today, only room 606 has conserved its original green and blue decoration. The hotel doesn’t take guests any more, but you can visit it by appointment.
Radisson Blu Royal Hotel, Hammerichsgade 1, Copenhaguen www.radissonblu.com
Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasilia Palace in Brasilia
Brazil’s retro-futuristic capital was built on the red earth of the Cerrado, in the centre of the country. In 1958, an austere parallelepiped on concrete stilts was opened in a dense tropical forest. The architect is Oscar Niemeyer, architect-demiurge of this capital city, which he has created from start to finish Renovated in 2006 after a fire, the hotel has conserved all its sixties aura. From the outset, the lobby impresses with its weightless mezzanine, a feature of the architect’s work. The 156 rooms, quite bare, have kept their period furniture, while the common areas are dressed in ceramic mural panels by the local artist Athos Bulcão.
SHTN Trecho 1 1 – Asa Norte, Brasília www.brasiliapalace.com.br
Jean Nouvel’s Athos Bulcão in Vienna
With its plays of reflections and the ceilings of the plastic artist Pipilotti Rist, the Vienna Sofitel built a few years ago by Jean Nouvel has become one of the Accor group’s totem hotels. The French sculptor conceived a sculptural tower, like an ultra modern glass window, opening onto Vienna’s historic district, while Patrick Blanc created a vertical garden on it. The monochrome white, black or grey rooms are filled with ideas, like these moveable boxes that enable the guest to structure their view over Vienna. An even more intense view when executed from the restaurant perched on the hotel’s roof. The spectacle is just as good behind the bay windows of the 18th floor, revealing the city at 360 degrees, surmounted, at nightfall, by a superb coloured fresco.
Sofitel Stephansdom, Lerchenfelder Strasse, 1-3, Vienne www.sofitel-vienna-stephansdom.com/
The first floor of the Silken Puerta América Hotel in Madrid by Zaha Hadid
What’s so original about the Silken Puerta América Hotel? Nineteen of the greatest contemporary architects and designers took part in its design. John Pawson, Marc Newson, Christian Liaigre, Norman Foster, David Chipperfield, Plasma Studio, Victorio & Lucchino, Ron Arad, Javier Mariscal & Fernando Salas, Jean Nouvel… Over three years, they each designed one floor of this vast hotel covering 34,000 square metres. On the first floor, Zaha Hadid combined furniture and beds in a single undulating, black or white unit, connecting the floor with the ceiling. Its bathtubs are like the smooth hollow formed by a stream in an underground cave.
Silken Puerta América Hotel, Avenida de América, 41, Madrid www.hoteles-silken.com
Jean-Philippe Nuel for the Hôtel Molitor
After being closed for twenty-five years, this big ocean liner – an Art Deco masterpiece – opened in 1929 by the swimmer Johnny Weissmuller, arose from its ashes in 2014. Not exactly the same, not exactly the opposite. The two restored pools have regained their mosaic effects but now back onto a restaurant, a mega-spa and a 5 star hotel redesigned by Jean-Philippe Nuel. The idea? To showcase everything that goes back to the era of Lucien Pollet’s 1929 design. But not only that. Street Art being an undeniable component of the hotel’s history, Nuel reworked the space as a series of sketches, which, each in their own way, mix the 1930s, the underground and touches of modernity.